• Luke Foley is calling for the Aboriginal flag to fly on the Harbour Bridge all year round, but not everyone agrees it should happen. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The debate about the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge continues to escalate as the NSW Premier says she's happy with the 'status quo'.
Laura Morelli

7 Feb 2018 - 2:38 PM  UPDATED 7 Feb 2018 - 5:47 PM

NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell, and Labor MP Linda Burney have stood by each other after controversial remarks from Gladys Berejiklian.

The NSW Premier said she's happy with the current arrangement of the flag appearing 15 days a year on Sydney Harbour Bridge, on days such as Australia Day and Reconciliation Day. However, Foley disagrees.

"Premier, the status quo doesn’t serve Aboriginal people well. It hasn’t served them well for 230 years now. I reckon the status quo has to change," he posted on his Twitter account. 

“At the very least the Premier should meet with the young Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka whose petition has almost 80,0000 signatures," Foley told NITV News.

Ms Berejiklian's comments were as a response to Foley's promise to fly the Aboriginal flag permanently on the Sydney Harbor Bridge if elected. 

"I think the status quo serves us well," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

"We believe in meaningful initiatives to support quality of life and quality of outcome for Aboriginal communities," she added.

Minister Mitchell told NITV News the Aboriginal flag is a critical part of many ceremonies in NSW.

"It permanently flies in both Chambers at NSW Parliament and at Government House, it replaces the State flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Australia Day and is also flown during National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC week,” she said.

“In fact, it was the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government that introduced the practice of flying the Aboriginal flag on the Harbour Bridge on Australia Day in 2013."

Labor MP Linda Burney has backed Mr Foley, labelling his initiative as "a simple but very unifying gesture”.

“I stand by Luke Foley’s comments on the matter in saying that we should all be proud of the 60,000 years of Indigenous history," Burney said.

A heated debate

The topical conversation is no doubt starting to create a stir on social media, drawing in some very controversial comments from people across the country, both for and against the permanent colours of black, yellow, red being hoisted atop the Harbour Bridge.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has called out Mr Foley's flag plan comparing it to acts of symbolism that really have little impact on the daily lives of Aboriginal people. Meanwhile, other outlets, such as The Daily Telegraph's Anna Caldwell claims Foley's latest promise is just another attempt to get noticed before the next election.  

"Divisive isn't asking for the Aboriginal flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Divisive is not refusing to fly the flag up there. It's the bare minimum."

"The commitment rocked the status quo enough that it got people talking about Labor — and that’s where Foley wants, and needs, to be," Caldwell said.

Controversial radio broadcaster, Alan Jones lost his temper after speaking with Mr Foley on Friday on 2GB during his Breakfast show. Jones angrily told Foley it was his 'political death'.  

"Luke Foley told my program there are 8 million people in NSW. 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for an Aboriginal flag on the Harbour Bridge. That's fewer than 1 per cent. Why is Mr Foley representing the concerns of the piddling minority?"

Yigar Gunditj/Bindal/Erub Mur Islander woman, Tarneen Onus-Williams, who recently came under scrutiny for her comments over Australia Day, also decided to take part in the Aboriginal flag debate. 

"Divisive isn't asking for the Aboriginal flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Divisive is not refusing to fly the flag up there. It's the bare minimum," she wrote on her Twitter account.

"Anyone would think we were asking for the money made off Sydney harbour bridge."

Another person took to social media to comment about Australia's former Prime Minister. 

"Tony Abbott says flying the Aboriginal flag on the Harbour Bridge 'sends all the wrong signals ... it sends a signal that we are effectively two nations'." 

With AAP

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